A community organization recently celebrated the holidays with the woman whose name it bears and whose mission it continues.
The Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center held a holiday open house on December 8 that included a pillar of local community involvement: Lucille Gorham, a retired educator and resident of West Greenville. She joined a group that included city officials and members of some of the IGCC’s programs for food, beverages, and a live classical guitarist.
The Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center was named after Gorham, who among other achievements was the first African-American woman to serve on the Pitt County Board of Education.
To say that Gorham has spent her life serving the community is to understate her legacy. She is the first African-American woman to have served on the Pitt County Board of Education. Her favorite memory comes from home: that she raised three children who all attended college.
“At this stage of my life, I feel that I’ve accomplished something toward education,” Gorham said.
Gorham was the recipient of the 2005 Best-Irons Humanitarian Award from the Greenville Human Relations Council. She is known as “Mother Gorham” in the community that she has worked to make better. And the image of her hand reaching out—adapted from a stained-glass window from St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church—is the logo for the IGCC.
“I feel so humble [to be] connected to a worthy cause, hoping that it will enhance the younger generation of children,” Gorham said. The IGCC that bears her name serves, in part, as a way to continue Gorham’s work.
The IGCC was started in 2007 as a joint venture between East Carolina University, Pitt Community College, and the City of Greenville, which had grant money available for redevelopment projects.
Among other services, the IGCC offers a regular quilters group.
Named after Gorham in October 2007, the center supplies what is lacking in the community by the way of job training and after-school programs, said Peggy Novotny, marketing director for ECU’s College of Human Ecology. Among other services, the center offers GED classes and a quilting group.
ECU’s human ecology students wrote the administrative manual and teach classes at the center.
“It was really just a good fit toward helping to revitalize Greenville,” she said.
The center has served 16,000 people since it opened its doors in 2007 and currently has 110 youth enrolled in after-school programs, said Kerry Littlewood, executive director of the IGCC.
The holiday party also attracted a crowd that included notable community members such as Greenville Mayor Pat Dunn, who described Gorham as someone who likes children and works for the good of others.
“She’s the kind of person every city wants to have,” Dunn said.
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